Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Abbott Elementary's William Stanford Davis Breaks Down Mr. Johnson's Unique Relationships With Each Teacher

"Abbott Elementary" has grown from a surprisingly sweet sleeper hit to a formidable comedic force that proves good television still happens on network primetime. For those who have yet to see the series, "Abbott Elementary" uses the mockumentary format to elevate a traditional workplace sitcom into a consistently funny and personal look at what it's like to be a public school teacher in America. Amidst slashed budgets, difficult children (and their parents), and outrageous personalities lies an intimate story about a group of people doing everything they possibly can to improve the lives of their students.

"Abbott" doesn't just follow the school's teachers, however. One of the show's fan favorite characters is actually Mr. Johnson, Abbott Elementary's off-beat and curiously storied janitor, who seems to appear out of thin air any time someone's in crisis just to chuckle. Johnson is played by William Stanford Davis, an actor whose career is, for the time being, book-ended by portraying janitors (his first role was that of "Custodian" in two episodes of "The Bold and the Beautiful"). Though Johnson commonly snickers at the troubles faced by the teachers of Abbott, he obviously still cares about them — at least in his own peculiar way. Speaking with the website Observer, Davis went into detail about what makes each of his "Abbott Elementary" relationships unique.

Each relationship is different

The series focuses primarily on Janine Teagues, Quinta Brunson's optimistic and occasionally pushy second-grade teacher (for new fans reading this, she's almost like a more relatable version of Leslie Knope from "Parks and Rec"). "[Janine is] kind of new and green," Davis told Observer, "and sometimes I [Mr. Johnson] take advantage of it, [but] sometimes I see her kindness and see what she was really there for, and I kind of let that land on me."

In the same interview, Davis also said that Johnson feels "close" with but occasionally "adversarial" toward Mr. Corny himself, Jacob (Chris Perfetti), and that he watches would-be principal Gregory (recent Golden Globe winner Tyler James Williams) with a very careful eye. "I think he reminds me of myself when I was young," Davis elaborated. He also said at separate times that he feels "closest" to both Gregory and Abbott's dysfunctional principal Ava (Janelle James). Speaking of Ava specifically, he explained, "We both felt like we were strong, opinionated people ... and we clashed, also. But I have the most fun with her character as an actor."

Though he an Ava make a great comic duo, Johnson also shines with Lisa Ann Walter's Melissa, a compassionate teacher who has ties to the Italian mafia. "I can't let Melissa intimidate me," Davis joked. Last and certainly not least is Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph), the veteran teacher and default maternal figure whom Davis feels Johnson has the most respect for, as they've known each other the longest. Despite this tapestry of connections, Davis revealed that he can't play into them too much, saying with a laugh, "Even if I bond with any of them, I have to keep them at bay, because I think I'm smarter than all of them."